This sloth robot could help (very slowly) save our planet

Look up, because the Atlanta Botanical Garden is getting a cute friend. For the next few months, visitors will find a new sloth lingering in the trees — a new sloth robot, to be exact.

Developed by engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, SlothBot is a three-foot long, solar-powered robot that monitors temperature, weather, carbon dioxide levels, etc. over the area it looms over.

Magnus Egerstedt, one of the robot’s engineers, said his creation is designed to mimic and embrace the slowness of a real sloth. The idea, he added, is so that it can conserve energy and survey its environment over long periods of time — months, or even years.

“SlothBot could do some of our research remotely and help us understand what’s happening with pollinators, interactions between plants and animals, and other phenomena that are difficult to observe otherwise,” said Emily Coffey, vice president for conservation and research at the Garden.

Ultimately, researchers hope that SlothBot will assist in conservation efforts by providing information critical to understanding and protecting rare species and endangered ecosystems.

“With the rapid loss of biodiversity and with more than a quarter of the world’s plants potentially heading toward extinction, SlothBot offers us another way to work toward conserving those species,” Coffey said.


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